Executive Committee 2012
Carlos I. Uresti
Texas State Senator District 19"The Blue Ribbon Task Force is dedicated to the idea that every child should get a fair chance at life, free of physical and mental abuse, hunger and neglect. It also recognizes that child protection is a responsibility that everyone in the community must share — that in this cause, each child is our own. By providing the information and resources that help make families strong and healthy, the task force and its volunteers look toward the day when all children can live without harm."
Born and raised in San Antonio in a family with seven siblings, Senator Uresti graduated from McCollum High School and enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves at the age of 18. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a Teaching Certificate from St. Mary’s University, and was then commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. Senator Uresti rose to the rank of Captain and earned the Navy Achievement Medal during his four years of active duty as a combat engineer. Since graduating from St. Mary’s University School of Law in 1992, he has been in private practice in San Antonio.
Senator Uresti raised his two sons, Michael and Carlos, Jr. in the same neighborhood in which he spent his formative years. He became a grandfather on July 22, 2008, when Michael and his wife Jennifer welcomed their first baby, Benjamin Michael.
A 1997 special election to the Texas House of Representatives opened the door to state politics for Senator Uresti. He served in the House for nine years and was the chairman of the Committee on Human Services during the 78th Legislature and the Committee on Government Reform during the 79th Legislature. With his reputation as a fighter for children, seniors and veterans, Uresti was elected to the Texas Senate in 2006. He is vice chairman of the Administration Committee, vice chairman of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee and sits on the Health and Human Services Committee and the Natural Resources Committee. He has received more than 90 awards and recognitions, including five Legislator of the Year awards for his efforts to combat child abuse.
Public Relations, CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital"It is my honor and privilege to serve as a member of the Blue Ribbon Task Force. As the mother of two young children, I believe every child deserves to live in a safe, nurturing home. This task force works to achieve that by helping ensure the safety of children who are at risk for or traumatized by abuse and neglect."
Born in Houston and raised in Arlington, Brandy Ralston-Lint is a native Texan that has called San Antonio home since 1996. With a background in television news, Brandy decided to use her voice to speak up for the most vulnerable victims of abuse, children.
In 2006, Brandy became the Community Outreach Liaison at the Center for Miracles at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital. As the only child abuse assessment center of its kind in South Central Texas, the Center for Miracles made prevention of child abuse and neglect a top priority. Brandy worked directly with their multi-disciplinary team of child abuse experts to create the “Time Out” prevention campaign. This campaign worked successfully with Spurs players Manu Ginoboli and Brent Barry to spread the message of a parental time out. The message was incorporated state wide and offered to every family involved in Child Protective Services.
In 2006, Brandy continued the mission of child abuse prevention by serving as part of a team that helped create the La Paloma, nurse home visitation program at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital. This program is still in existence today, helping new mothers by referring them for services such as child care and parenting classes.
Over the past five years, Brandy has represented the Center for Miracles in working with state lawmakers, city and county officials and local organizations involved in making a difference for the children of South Central Texas. She created and took part in numerous presentations to state lawmakers in Austin and San Antonio in which their team of child abuse experts worked directly with Senator Uresti to successfully create and pass MedCares legislation in 2009. That legislation helps fund the Center for Miracles and other child abuse assessment centers across the state. In addition, it helps fund the training of future child abuse pediatricians.
Brandy has recently taken on a larger role as the Public Relations Program Manager for CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital. She is married to a San Antonio police detective who handles crimes against children. Together, they are the proud parents of two beautiful children.
Kathleen A. Fletcher, Ph.D., M.P.H.
President/CEO, Voices for Children of San Antonio“At the door of a children’s hospital where I once worked and studied was the following: 'We approach the problems of children with affection, for theirs is the province of joy and good humor; they are the most wholesome part of the human race, for they are freshest from the hand of God.' I am honored to be chosen to serve on the Blue Ribbon Task Force to protect our most vulnerable children.”
Kathy Fletcher holds a Master’s and Doctorate in Special Education and a Masters in Public Health with emphasis in Community Health. She started her career as a caseworker and teacher in a juvenile court and an academic children’s psychiatric hospital. Her dissertation research was conducted in a regional Newborn Intensive Care Unit with families of hospitalized newborns assessing risk for parenting disorders and maltreatment among parents of these high risk newborns. She continued work with this population of mothers and babies at the Newborn Center at the University of Tennessee where she developed a parent-to-parent program, parent education for teen mothers and developed and coordinated the developmental follow-up clinic. At the UTHSCSA and at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa, she participated in developing several local programs in maternal-child health and prevention, including school based clinics in Guadalupe County and the David Christopher Goldsbury Center for Miracles. She was a founding Board member of the National Association of Perinatal Social Workers and Voices for Children of San Antonio. She returned to Voices for Children as President/ CEO in April, 2011. She is the mother of two grown children born in Peru and the delighted grandmother of a toddler, Joshua.
Executive Director, Any Baby Can
I feel privileged to be a part of the Blue Ribbon Task Force. Children are the most vulnerable members of our society and deserve the right to be safe, protected and encouraged to reach their highest potential. This task force works tirelessly to ensure that all children have this opportunity.
Dawn Dixon has worked in the field of rehabilitation and social services for twenty-six years. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Rehabilitation with a minor in Special Education. Dawn began her career in Houston, Texas where she worked for more than fifteen years in the field of rehabilitation working with adults with disabilities. Dawn was responsible for developing the first group home for people who are deaf/blind and multiply disabled in the Houston area and was instrumental in developing the first “return to work” program for people living with HIV/AIDS with funding received from the Texas Department of State Health Services. Both programs are still operating in Houston, Texas.
In 2002 Dawn became the Executive Director of Any Baby Can of San Antonio, Inc. and began the “Reaching Families Facing Autism” program. Since the program’s inception, Any Baby Can has become the leader in the San Antonio community as the agency to turn to if one has a child diagnosed with autism. In 2004, Any Baby Can was able to develop and implement a Prescription Assistance Program, serving children and adults in Bexar and the surrounding counties who are uninsured or underinsured becoming the first community based prescription assistance program in Bexar County. Under Dawn’s leadership in 2008, an agency endowment was established to ensure that the services offered by Any Baby Can will continue far into the future and a satellite office was opened in New Braunfels which has since served over eight hundred area families who have children with special health care needs.
Dawn also received the Humanitarian Award from the La Prensa Foundation in 2008 where her work at Any Baby Can of San Antonio was highlighted, as well as the Athena Award for Organizational Leadership in 2011. For the past eight years she has led a team of growing professionals as the Executive Director of Any Baby Can of San Antonio, Inc. Since joining the agency she has attained a seventy-one percent increase in the agency’s operating budget, empowering the provision of essential healthcare services to many more children. Dawn is married and has two children.
Judge Peter Sakai
225th District Court Judge
Judge Sakai is 54 years old and was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. He graduated from McAllen High School in 1972 and attended then named Pan American University. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 1976 and graduated with a Doctorate of Jurisprudence from the University of Texas Law School in 1979. At the age of 27 years old, he was appointed to be the Chief of the Juvenile Section of the District Attorney’s Office. He left the D.A.’s office for private practice. In 1989, he was appointed to be the Juvenile Master/Referee of the 289th District Court (Juvenile Court).
Through Judge Sakai’s leadership, adoption of foster children in Bexar County has increased nearly 1000% from 1995 to 2005. Bexar County routinely leads the State of Texas for the number of foster children with consummated adoptions and permanent homes. For his efforts, President (then Governor) George W. Bush recognized Judge Sakai and his model court on the Governor’s Committee to Promote Adoption.
Judge Sakai is widely recognized in the community as being a leader who works hard to bring new ideas and solutions to help resolve issues of child abuse and neglect and family violence and to constantly challenge all involved in the child welfare system to more effectively serve the families that come into his courtroom and prevent child abuse and neglect.
Judge Sakai is constantly looking for new and innovative ideas to help keep families together and improve children’s lives. Most recently, he has been involved in the planning and building of a national model Bexar County Children’s Court in the historic Bexar County Courthouse, the implementation of a Family Drug Treatment Court for parents with addiction issues who have children in the foster care system and the implementation of the Family Group Conferencing Model to bring families together to promote healing by families.
Judge Sakai is married to Raquel M. Dias-Sakai and has two children, George and Elizabeth.
Chief William McManus
Chief of Police, San Antonio Police Department
Chief William P. McManus became the Chief of Police of the San Antonio Police Department on April 17, 2006, having previously served as Chief of Police of the Minneapolis Police Department from February 2004 through April 2006, and Chief of Police of the Dayton, Ohio, Police Department from November 2001 through February 2004.
Chief McManus started his law enforcement career in 1975, when he joined the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, where he served in a variety of street and investigative assignments, and rose through the ranks of Sergeant, Lieutenant, and Captain. In 1998, McManus was promoted to Commander of the First District, which includes Capitol Hill and areas west of the White House, and later that year he was promoted to the position of Assistant Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department, a position he held until 2001, when he retired from the Metropolitan PD and became Chief of the Dayton PD.
Chief McManus is a graduate of the FBI National Executive Institute and National Academy, and the Senior Management Institute for Police at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. He holds a Bachelor's Degree from Villanova University in Pennsylvania and a Master's Degree in Management from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD.
Chief McManus is married and has three children.
James S. Castro, LPC, LMFT
Executive Director, St. Peter-St. Joseph Children's Home
In 1996 James graduated with his Master’s degree in Marriage & Family Therapy from St. Mary’s University and has since become a leader in Texas promoting children and family’s well-being. Currently he is the Executive Director for St. Peter-St. Joseph Children's Home (St. PJ’s) in San Antonio. St. PJ’s cares for abused and neglected children, 143 at any given time, ranging in age from infancy to 17 years old. James was recognized by Governor Rick Perry for his work by being appointed in October 2009 to the Texas State Task Force to Reduce Child Abuse & Neglect.
Prior to this appointment Castro was appointed by Governor Perry and served six years on the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors, he also served on the Board of Mental Health America of Texas. His commitment to children and families includes serving as the Chair for the Bexar County Community Resource & Coordination Group (CRCG) for six years, 2002 -2008, as one of the initial leaders for the Bexar County Children’s Diversion Initiative that began in 2007 and also serving the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission as a member of its Models for Change initiative.
Before joining St. PJ’s Castro was the Director of Children’s Operations at the Center for Health Care Services (CHCS). He joined CHCS in 1999. While there he transformed the children’s division into a community partner and leader in assisting children with mental health needs. As a member of the Texas State Children’s Directors Consortium he was instrumental in bringing innovative programs to Bexar County through CHCS. He volunteered for Catholic Television of San Antonio for six years as a host of one of their longest running programs, Catholicism Live.
He currently holds licenses as a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist.
Children are our most vulnerable and our most valuable resource…they are the future of our world. ChildSafe is a refuge of safety and healing for children in Bexar County and The Blue Ribbon Task Force brings the will and strength of the our community together to help protect our children…I can’t think of two more important place to focus my efforts.
Kim Abernethy is has over 30 years experience in non-profit administration, management, grant writing, marketing, budget development, finance management, and program start up. Ms. Abernethy is the President & CEO ChildSafe, Bexar County’s Children’s Advocacy Center, the only agency to provide a continuum of care, including medical, therapeutic and advocacy/victim services, to child sexual abuse survivors from the ages of 0 to 18 years of age and their supportive/non offending family members. She took over the leadership of ChildSafe in September, 2010. Prior to taking over the leadership of ChildSafe, Kim was the executive director of the San Antonio River Foundation for three years. Before joining the San Antonio River Foundation, she served as the director of development and operations for seven years at the Cibolo Nature Center in Boerne, Texas. Kim worked as a program administrator and a social worker with children and adult mental health services organizations for over 20 years: as a Department Head at MHMRA of Harris county; a Director at Burke Center (MHMR) in Deep East Texas; director of programs and operations at St. Jude’s Ranch for Children, a Head Start director, and a unit director in residential treatment for children and adolescents. Kim has also served on several non – profit boards throughout her career.
Ms. Abernethy has lived in Texas all her life and hails from the Piney Woods of Deep East Texas. She and her family have lived in the San Antonio region for the past 15 years after making their home in Houston for six years. Ms. Abernethy and her husband Robert have three adult children and two grandchildren and live on 14 acres in Boerne.
Ms. Abernethy has a degree in psychology from Sam Houston State University, with graduate studies at the University of Houston and Stephen F. Austin State University. Her interest and hobbies are nature, gardening, and cooking.
Mayor Julian Castro
Mayor of San Antonio
A 37-year-old San Antonio native, Mayor Julián Castro is the youngest mayor of a Top 50 American city. First elected on May 9, 2009, Mayor Castro handily won re-election in 2011 with nearly 82 percent of the vote.
Throughout his tenure, Mayor Castro has focused on attracting well-paying jobs in 21st century industries, positioning San Antonio to be a leader in the New Energy Economy and raising educational attainment across the spectrum.
Mayor Castro created SA 2020, a community-wide visioning effort turned nonprofit that has galvanized thousands of San Antonians around a simple, but powerful vision for San Antonio - to create a brainpower community that is the liveliest city in the nation.
Under his leadership, the city in 2010 opened Café College, a one-stop counseling center offering advice on financial aid, college admissions and standardized test preparation to any student in the San Antonio area. In its first year, Café College served more than 5,000 area students, spurring an expansion of the facility in 2011.